Telehealth To Be Made Permanent After Aussies Used It More Than 86M Times During The Pandemic

telehealth australia permanent greg hunt

In some actual good news to come out of the last two years of pandemic life, telehealth is sticking around as a full-time part of our healthcare system. It’s a real good win for Australians accessing healthcare, especially for people who physically can’t get to appointments because of work, family commitments or mobility issues.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement on Monday morning. He said that telehealth first came into widespread use in the country because of the pandemic but has since proven how vital it is to help more people get in touch with healthcare services right across Australia.

“It came about because of the pandemic, but it has changed the way Australians can access healthcare,” he said.

“What this will do is give Australians and their GPs the choice.”

According to a release from the federal Department of Health, there have been a whopping 86.3 million telehealth consultations since the kick off of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, and over 89,000 providers like GPs and psychologists have used telehealth to have important sessions with their patients.

A permanent telehealth option has been on the cards for the federal government after Greg Hunt confirmed in late 2020 that the government was looking for ways to make the temporary consultations an ongoing thing.

Today’s announcement is backed by a $308.6 million investment from the Australian Government to “strengthen the primary care health system”.

Of that big investment, $106 million is being dedicated to building and maintaining a permanent telehealth system, giving all Aussies more flexibility around accessing important healthcare, including GPs, specialists and allied health professionals.

Mental health services are getting a $58.8 million boost too, allowing Aussies to access up to 20 Medicare subsidised sessions throughout 2022 — something that’s definitely been a massive support for our mental health this year.

On top of this solid news, the big investment from the federal government also includes an extension of Commonwealth vaccination clinics for a further six months. That means we’ve got more time to go and get a COVID-19 vax jab or a PCR test in a government-run clinic for a while yet.